Frontline workers at CPMC/Sutter Medical Group wearing the Saving Face masks.
Frontline workers at CPMC/Sutter Medical Group wearing the Saving Face masks.

Local project Saving Face keeping frontline workers safe

Dee-Dee and Yoel Sberlo started out just wanting to help a longtime friend who had an ambitious idea about making personal protective equipment for frontline health care workers.

Now, in a matter of weeks, the germ of an idea has become a full-scale project called Saving Face, and the Sberlos are going full bore, along with 25 other volunteers, assembling face shields using a doctor-sanctioned design created by their friend, S.F.-based contractor Cy Lo.

Dee-Dee and Yoel Sberlo model the face shields being distributed to medical workers in the Bay Area.
Dee-Dee and Yoel Sberlo model the face shields being distributed to medical workers in the Bay Area.

To date, more than 4,000 have been delivered to grateful personnel at CPMC/Sutter Medical Group, Hospice by the Bay and Zuckerberg General Hospital in San Francisco, Seton Medical Center in Daly City, Highland Hospital in Oakland and about 15 other facilities.

The Sberlos, of San Francisco, have designated roles in the effort: Dee-Dee communicates with hospitals and coordinates volunteers, and Yoel works to streamline operations and improve efficiency and design.

They are the parents of four adult children, all graduates of Brandeis Hillel Day School (now Brandeis School of San Francisco), and longtime volunteers for numerous initiatives over the years.

“I’ve been involved in some aspect of volunteerism forever, since my kids were little and I first volunteered at their school,” said Dee-Dee, who went on to become volunteer coordinator for Rebuilding Together, a nonprofit that repairs homes to provide safe and healthy housing. “I’ve found that people really want to do good. And one person can make a huge difference,” she said.

“There are always people in need, and it’s incumbent upon us as Jews and as human beings to devote ourselves to giving. If every single person devoted a few hours a month, all of our communities would be better for it,” she said.

The Saving Face project works this way: A team member drives to volunteers’ homes each Tuesday to drop off that week’s supply kits, keeping a safe social distance. The kits contain purchased and donated materials to assemble the product, including elastic, foam, plastic sheets (law firms have donated hundreds of folders), staples and glue.

Another volunteer picks up the finished face shields on Thursday and delivers them to the hospitals. They can be cleaned and reused a number of times.

Saving Face is already into its next production cycle of 1,000 units. A GoFundMe campaign has raised nearly $12,000, all of which is going toward materials, production and distribution. Project leaders are also considering expanding beyond the Bay Area to other parts of the country in need of PPE.

Sue Barnett

Sue Barnett is J.'s managing editor. She can be reached at sueb@jweekly.com.